Survivors of Paris Attacks Recount Tales of Horror

"I keep thinking 'It could've been me,'" says Guilluame Bonnet, 29, recalling the deadly attack last night in Paris' 10th district which left at least 12 people dead, one of six attacks in total across Paris. "What if our conversation had finished 15 minutes earlier?"

Bonnet was having dinner with his parents at a restaurant called Chez Marie Louise, just one block from where the shooting occurred outside Le Carillon bar. At approximately 9:20 p.m., Bonnet says he heard what sounded like fireworks. He thought it was perhaps kids playing a game on the street—until he saw people running and screaming down the street, and saw the restaurant's owner closed the curtains to the street. "That's when I started to feel really afraid."

Ten minutes later, at the Stade de France stadium on the outskirts of Paris, Tristan Lebleu, 22, had also realized something was very wrong. "We heard the first explosion, but we didn't think it was anything serious," he tells Newsweek over the phone. "The players even resumed the match. But then there was another explosion. We felt the whole stadium vibrate."

Like many residents of Paris this morning, Lebleu and Bonnet are reeling from the events of the previous night which left 127 people dead in the deadliest terrorist attacks in France's history. As many mourn for lost loved ones or wonder who is to blame for the attacks, witnesses like Bonnet and Lebleu are trying to piece the night together, and wonder how their city, indeed their lives, could be irrevocably changed.

"I live in that neighborhood," says Bonnet. "After we drove away from the restaurant, we drove near my house and I realized another attack had happened there. I could see police everywhere. People were screaming. I understood I couldn't go home that night."

Bonnet was referring to the second attack, where, outside La Casa Nostra on Rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi, a man opened fire on diners, killing five people.

Back at Stade de France, Lebleu was rushing out of the stadium, not long after President François Hollande himself had been evacuated. The explosions Lebleu had heard killed four people. "You couldn't even walk," he says. "It was complete panic. There were police everywhere, the army, but no one knew what was going on."

Lebleu walked with a friend to the train station to take the train home, but none of the trains were running. Fielding dozens of calls and messages from worried relatives, Lebleu began the three-hour walk home.

Meanwhile, in Paris, Bonnet and his parents were trying to negotiate their way out of Paris, to Versailles where his parents live. On the way, they encountered the most deadly attack of all.

"We drove past the Bataclan," he tells Newsweek, referring to the theater on Boulevard Voltaire in the 11th district where up to 100 people were taken hostage by masked men with machine guns. "Everyone was freaking out, people running down the street. I saw bodies lying on the ground outside the theatre."

Inside the theater, the gunmen opened fire on the hundreds of Parisians who had been watching the American rock group Eagles of Death Metal. Eventually security forces arrived on the scene and stormed the building. One of the attackers was shot dead and three died when they blew themselves up. By the end of the siege, 80 concertgoers had lost their lives in the deadliest of the Paris attacks.

Lebleu finally arrived home. Turning on his phone, he found that he had hundreds of messages and missed calls from people making sure he was safe. As the night ended, this became the chief concern for many in Paris—frantically calling loved ones to ensure they were spared the massacre.

Bonnet arrived home and said he barely slept. Today he feels in total shock. But he is still aware of the political ramifications the attacks could have. Marie Le Pen's far-right National Front has been gaining steady ground, and with regional elections just a month away, Bonnet says he's concerned about how the attacks will be used fan the flames of the party's staunch anti-immigration policy. "I don't want to live in France that is afraid," he says.

When asked if he would feel safe to go back in his neighborhood that has been so fundamentally scarred, Bonne replies, "I'm going to go back to my life. They want me to be afraid to go home, to go the restaurant, to go for a drink. But I won't. I'm alive."

Survivors of Paris Attacks Recount Tales of Horror | Politics